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Hearing God: What to Do When God Feels Far

Years ago, a friend of mine was going through a crisis in his life. He needed God, but had felt a distance in his relationship with him for too long.

I offered to help him. I said, “Let’s pray together and see what God says.”

“OK,” he responded.

And when we prayed together, my friend borrowed two things from me that he needed: my faith and a few questions we asked God together.

He’d stopped believing that God wanted to speak to him. I, on the other hand, sensed that he did. But my friend had to exercise enough faith to give it a shot.

When he did, I could tell that God was in fact speaking to him as I saw tears rolling down his cheeks.

“What did God say?” I asked.

“He said, ‘I’ve missed you,'” my friend answered.

What my friend experienced is normal. We all go through periods of silence. When I first posted about it five years ago, thousands of readers responded. I still get comments on that post – over 120 of them. People pouring out their frustration at the separation they feel from God.

I wish it were easier. If you feel yourself struggling to hear God clearly, you find yourself in good company. Listening prayer can sometimes feel like a frustrating waste of time. Anybody who minimizes that struggle is probably not telling you the whole truth about their own complicated conversation with God.

I’ve been asking myself (and God) the question, “Why does this happen?” And I’ve got a few thoughts.

First, we need to recognize that it’s normal in any intimate relationship for people to experience periods of silence.

They can feel awkward and make you mad. Why should our relationship with God be any different?